The All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) announced a countrywide strike on Monday. This decision has been taken in response to the safety rules that have been imposed on them by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). After the recent incident in Bahawalpur on June 25, that left around 200 people dead, authorities decided to take charge of the situation to ensure that no such incidents happen again.

It was lack of responsibility on several levels that lead to such a situation; from oil marketing companies to the tanks delivering that oil. The quality of the oil tankers is something that must be ensured. As a result of this, the petroleum ministry has handed over the responsibility of the tankers to OGRA. OGRA, along with motorway police, is levying heavy fines against those violating the safety standards that have been set.

The reason the protest has been called is because members of APOTA feel that the motorway police and OGRA are exploiting them. Despite paying advance taxes of up to three months, they should not be getting this treatment. This is why they decided to stop the supply of oil for an infinite period in the country, until and unless their demands are met.

APOTA members fail to understand is that these safety measures are necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads. The reason why such measures are being taken is because they have not been fair in the jobs that they are doing. Had the quality of tanks met the criteria that is officially set, such an incident would have been very unlikely. Hence, it is very important at this point for OGRA to launch an investigation and fine those who are not meeting set standards. Pakistan cannot afford more debacles.

Till now, over 600 tankers have been stopped at Port Qasim from delivering oil, while almost 300 tanks have been stopped midway out of retaliation against the new laws. Despite Chairman Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association Abdul Sami Khan’s claim that oil is present in sufficient quantity at the fuel stations; it is not going to last. All of that has a significant impact on Pakistan’s economy.

If members of APOTA feel left out of the decision making process by OGRA and the oil marketing companies; there are legal ways of pursuing their objective, instead of looking to cripple the economy.